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Onitsha Building Collapse Probe: Anglican Church urges Soludo to withdraw 2 members for alleged prejudice

By Chuks Collins


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The Niger Diocese of the Anglican Church, owners of the collapsed Centenary Building at the Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha which crashed in the early hours of June 12, 2024 has called on Gov Chukwuma Soludo to drop two prominent professionals among the panel he set up to investigate the reason why the building came down.

The two members, Prof Akaolisa Ezeagu who chairs the Panel and Engr. Victor Meju, a key member of the panel were reported to have made prejudiced comments publicly and publications following the collapse of the building.

In a letter to a press statement from the Church late last night, the Governor on behalf of the DMGS Old Boys Association and the Diocese, a team of legal practitioners led by Barrister Nnamdi Ibegbu, Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, who is their legal advisers expressed open worry that the public and the Diocese may not get a fair hearing with these persons who have clearly demonstrated manifest bias and unprofessionalism on the matter being members of the Panel.

The Legal Team cited the Sun Newspaper publication of June 16, 2024, under the column, Voice of the Nation- with heading “No Approval Given For The Collapsed Onitsha School Building-NBRRI” where Prof Akaolisa Ezeagu made comments and came to the conclusion publicly that there was no authorization from any quarters before the gigantic structure was erected.

Akaolisa, according to them had also in the same publication even before the commencement of investigations attributed the collapse of the building to a poor foundation, which he claimed was as a result of disconnect between the building team and the Technical Engineer.

Prof Akaolisa also in the same publication stated that “preliminary investigation points to foundation problem”.

The Legal Team further cited the Punch Newspaper of 14th June 2024 with headline ” Three More Victims Rescued from Anambra Collapsed Building As Probe Begins” Engr. Sir Victor Meju, a Mechanical Engineer, and Chairman Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria(COREN), Anambra State Chapter, in the Newspaper stated that “the collapse could be traced to a faulty Foundation and substandard materials used for construction.” He went further to state that the approval was given for a two- storey building, but that the builders decided to add more floors to it.

The Legal Team therefore pointed out to the Governor that Prof Akaolisa and Engr. Meju having acted unprofessionally it was doubtful that they will give unbiased decision in the panel’s work.

Consequently, the Legal Team pleaded with the Governor to most respectfully withdraw the two persons from the panel or in the alternative the two persons be allowed to honorable recuse themselves from the panel, so that Natural Justice, Equity, Good Conscience and Fairness shall prevail in the deliberation and report of the panel.

They however commended the Governor for setting up the Panel of Enquiry to investigate the immediate and remote causes of building collapses in parts of the state.

The Diocese, according to the legal team believes that this laudable initiative by the Governor will help ensure utmost professionalism in the construction sector in the state.

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